Afro imaginaries in Italian fashion

Afro suggestions have long been present in the collections of Italian designers. However, the relationship between Italian fashion and the African continent has been transforming over time: alongside the creations of designers who have found inspiration in African cultures and art, new, young fashion brands are emerging whose creations are uniquely characterised by African origins. In 2020, a synergy between the We Are Made in Italy (WAMI) collective and Camera della Moda brought five Afro-descendant designers to the catwalks of Milan Fashion Week, sending a signal in the direction of undermining the idea that 'Italian' and 'Made in Italy' correspond to exclusively white identity and promoting the presence of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of colour) creatives in the industry. Fashion in Italy, however, is a complex world that is born away from the spotlight, is rooted in districts and neighbourhood networks, supports individuals through self-employment and micro-entrepreneurship experiences, and gives birth to social workshops that encourage healing and learning through the creation of beauty.

In 2016, ModaCult organised a first conference entitled "AfroCult: Fashion and African Cultures in Italy", from whose experience the Summer School "Fashion, Food & Arts: Creative Enterprises between Italy and Africa" emerged in the summer of 2019. 

The topic was also the subject of a PhD research funded by a MIUR grant conducted between 2020 and 2023. This led to a mapping of Afro-fashion realities on the Italian territory and the collection of more than 30 biographical interviews with exponents of the sector. Initial results show signs of a shift to new cultural imaginaries that have the potential to become gateways to social inclusion.